What is Kanban Methodology?

by StarAgile

October 19, 2020
Category Kanban


Basics of Kanban Methodology

1. Principles

Kanban is a method that is used to manage and control the workflow management system in the projects. It is used to make the work easy, efficient, and improve them continuously. The origin of Kanban was in the manufacturing industry and made its way to software development as well. It is one of the methods recognized the world over. The early Kanban system is a whiteboard that is used with cards to monitor and track the projects. One of the features of the Kanban is Just-In-Time management.

The early Kanban system was developed in the year 1960 and now with today’s advancement in computers and software applications has made way to Kanban tools as software applications. 

The Kanban system consists of a board and it is cards arranged in sequence in columns. There is a minimum of 3 columns, they are "To Do" lists or Backlog, and then come to the "Work In Progress" abbreviated as WIP and finally the "Work Done" column. To know more about Kanban register for the Kanban training at StarAgile institute.

The Kanban system has 4 core principles on which the Kanban method is based out of, they are as follows.

Principle 1: Do what you are doing now to start with

You need not change the culture or the way you are doing currently. By introducing Kanban slowly and steadily in your organization you attempt to improve the efficiency of the processes. It can be introduced incrementally and steadily so that you control the 3 columns described above. There are no abrupt changes or cultural shock in introducing the Kanban method.

Principle 2: Do the incremental and evolutionary changes

The changes brought about by Kanban are minimal and they are incremental and evolutionary. The use of sweeping or sudden change is discouraged in the Kanban method as it will result in resistance due to uncertainty in the project or fear of making the changes. To learn more explore the Kanban certification course at StarAgile.

Principle 3: Give due respect to the current processes, roles, and responsibilities.

With Kanban introduction, there are no role changes or changes to the responsibilities and the processes. The Kanban way of doing things is to do incremental and small logical changes without fear of failure and uncertainty in the methods.

Principle 4: Leadership at all levels

Kanban encourages that all the team members are given due chance and will exhibit account of leadership and it is not only the job of the top management but also for all the people till the lowest level. It says that there must be a system in place that is Kaizen to make small improvements daily by all the people. 

2. Practices and how to implement the Kanban approach

The diagram below represents the 6 Kanban practices and the details are further explained 


1. Visualize - Kanban tools are great for visualizing the tools that will be covered separately in this article. The Kanban board made in the software is used to control, manage, track and monitor the projects with the help of visualization

2. Limit work in progress - One of the ways to control the inflation in the WIP is to make WIP Limits which limits the number of cards or tasks in the WIP column. This also prevents many blockers and problems early in the project. The fundamentals of Kanban are taught in KMP 1 certification training at StarAgile institute.

3. Manage Flow - To have a stable flow you need to control the Backlogs, WIP, and Work done columns to ensure the system is stable. Kanban is meant for managing the workflow management of the projects. We need to ensure that the entire workflows of tasks are stable and tasks are not added to WIP unless there is an increase in the resources.

4. Make policies explicit - It is important to control the WIP with the help of WIP Limits and this is one of the policies of the Kanban. There should not be any hidden policy; policies of Kanban must be communicated and visible online. Another important policy is the definition of done which must be clearly stated and agreed on by the customer. Also, ensure you make data-driven decisions.

5. Implement Feedback Loops - Feedback loops are important at every stage and the entire Kanban must be followed and understood by all the team members. The pulse of the projects in the organization is the feedback loop. The Kanban system improved by David J Anderson has 7 cadences. The cadences are the cyclical review that drives the improvement and effectiveness of the projects. The 7 cadences are as follows,

  • Strategy Review
  • Operations Review
  • Risk Review
  • Service Delivery Review
  • Replenishment Meeting
  • The Kanban Meeting
  • Delivery Planning Meeting 

6. Evolve experimentally and improve collaboratively - One of the uses of the Kanban board is sharing files and documents, do messaging, sharing the tasks and ensuring that the task status is communicated very well with all the stakeholders.

When does the Kanban Method act as a game-changer? 

  • If you have workflows that need to be smooth and want to make it more efficient
  • There are a lot of works that are backlogged and blocked by some issues or problems
  • When you want incremental improvement in the projects without abrupt changes or change radically
  • Your top priority is to define the definition of done that has been agreed on by the customer
  • When there is an abrupt scope change that needs to be managed properly.

What Are Kanban Process and the tools used in it 

The Kanban process is the pull method of workflow management to control, track, and monitor and manage the projects. You can also learn more about Kanban by taking the Kanban course at StarAgile.

The benefits of Kanban are many and they are illustrated below,

  • Collaborate and evolve steadily
  • Improve the efficiency of the tasks
  • WIP limits help to control and monitor the tasks
  • Kanban is easy to adopt and you can start with what you are doing currently for the projects.
  • It helps to visualize the work and the tasks
  • It helps in workflow management of the projects.

  • Some of the top 5 tools used in Kanban are as follows,
  • Trello
  • Kanbanize
  • Smartsheet
  • Kanban Flow
  • Monday

These tools are discussed in the separate article called Kanban Tools. Browse through the contents to know more about the Kanban tools.

Further, learn Kanban with tools and how to use the tools by registering for the Kanban Training Online course at StarAgile.

Details about Kanban Analytics 

1. Throughput Run chart

The throughput run chart helps you in tracking the throughput. It can be used to evaluate the throughput on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and compare the values over time. The closure the values are the stable the processes and the processes are more predictable. The x-axis consists of dates and the y-axis consists of the throughput in days.

2. Throughput Histogram

The throughput histogram is plotted with throughput items in the x-axis and frequency per number of days in the y-axis. It is used to calculate the consistency in the delivery of the items monthly. It is calculated using the statistics of mean, mode, median, and average. Interestingly the average throughput must increase over time or stay the same. You can also find the trends throughout the task delivery.

3. Cycle time Scatter plot

The cycle time scatter plot is used to calculate the completion rate of tasks over a specific period. It is used for forecasting future task completion time. By assigning the different colors on similar tasks you can compare the tasks on how long it tool for each of the tasks to get complete. It also shows the percentage of tasks completed in several days. It is plotted to keep the dates as x-axis and cycle time of tasks or the number of days it to take to complete the tasks. Each task is represented as dots in the chart.  

4. Cycle Time Histogram

Cycle time histogram is used to study the overall distribution of the cycle time of the tasks into consideration in the projects. If the distribution is too wide then the processes are unstable. Interestingly lines in the chart must go down or stay the same. The chart also shows the mean, median, mode, and average delivery times and trends over time. The chart is plotted by keeping the cycle time in days along the x-axis and frequency per work items done in the y-axis. 

5. Cumulative Flow diagram

The cumulative flow diagram or the CFD is plotted with work items as the y-axis and dates as the x-axis. There three main layers those are Backlog, WIP, and Work Done layers. This shows the stability of the processes in the projects. If the three layers are rising and have the same vertical height that means the project is stable. The CFD is discussed in detail in one of the articles, to read browse through the contents.

6. Aging Chart

The aging charts are plotted with cycle time on the y-axis and various WIP stages such as development, testing, production in the x-axis. The dots represent the tasks done in several days. The higher the dots, greater is the delay in completing the projects.

Final takeaway – Kanban or Scrum 

Kanban is easy to implement and is a data-driven methodology to start with and does not require much change in the processes. There are no sudden surprises in implementing Kanban.  Whereas the scrum is the agile way of doing the work in incremental sprints. The best way to do the work is to adopt both scrum and Kanban in an integrated approach. What are you waiting for register for the Kanban Management Professional Certification course with StarAgile and reap the benefits of learning Kanban.